Articles Posted in burn injuries

Published on:

1158220_39704248.jpgA national health care advocacy organization, the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH), recently released a report on injury-related deaths in all fifty states and the District of Columbia, entitled “The Facts Hurt: A State-By-State Injury Prevention Policy Report.” TFAH identified ten “key indicators” of injury prevention in state laws and regulations. The study ranked the states and D.C. based on the number of key indicators present, and it also ranked them based on the rate of deaths per 100,000 people. Florida ranked near the middle on both scales, with only six of the ten key indicators. The state’s annual rate of 66.8 injury-related deaths gives it the eighteenth-highest rate in the country.

Injuries account for over 180,000 deaths each year, according to the study. Among people between the ages of one and forty-four years, injuries are the leading cause of death. Injuries account for nearly 90,000 deaths in that age group, compared to 50,000 for non-communicable disease and less than 10,000 for communicable disease. The study divides injuries into categories, including falls, blunt force injuries, gunshot wounds, cuts or puncture wounds, burns, poisoning, vehicular injuries, and drowning or suffocation. In all, the lifetime costs of injuries, which includes not only immediately medical expenses but also the ongoing cost of care, lost income, and lost productivity, exceed $406 billion per year.

New Mexico has the highest overall injury-related death rate, according to TFAH, with 97.8 deaths per 100,000. New Jersey has the lowest rate at 36.1. Florida is just behind Colorado’s 67.8 and ahead of North Carolina’s 66. TFAH states in its report that it cannot say with certainty why one state has a lower or higher injury-related death rate than another state, but that its list of “key indicators” can offer states guidance on how to effectively prevent injuries.

Continue reading →

Published on:

As a Broward County burn injury attorney, I was disappointed but not surprised to see media reports that Michael Brewer had to go back to the hospital to deal with respiratory problems Jan. 3. Brewer, 15, suffered burns to two-thirds of his body this fall when three other teenagers intentionally set him on fire, over a dispute about a $40 debt. The victim was released from a specialized hospital burn unit more than two months later, on Dec. 22. But as the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported Jan. 5, burn experts say it’s not at all unusual for survivors of severe burns like Brewer’s to develop complications serious enough to require more medical care.

The article notes that Brewer underwent three skin-graft surgeries to replace skin destroyed by the burn. This typically means the patient needs blood transfusions, and an uninvolved doctor told the newspaper that blood transfusions can weaken patients’ immune systems. This leaves patients more vulnerable to infections, including potentially serious infections like pneumonia. Patients could be even more vulnerable if they had a preexisting medical condition that weakened their immune systems, such as diabetes, or failed to follow doctors’ orders. And one of Brewer’s doctors had already said that respiratory failure was a possibility with burns this severe. Burns over more than a small patch of skin can cause these complications because the skin protects our bodies from infection and regulates hydration. Losing it can be life-threatening.

Believe it or not, this frightening list of complications is only the beginning for many of the patients I see as a Sunrise severe burn lawyer. After the initial danger is past, patients with extreme burns still require months of follow-up care to prevent infections, repair as much damage as possible and promote healing. In many cases, they will also need future care aimed at preventing their skin from scarring in a way that limits their mobility and disables or disfigures them. Even when this is medically successful, it can still leave patients with visible scars that change the way others behave around them and make it hard to go into public. And unfortunately, all of this medical care can be very, very expensive, reaching six or seven figures over a lifetime even with insurance.

Continue reading →

Published on:

Last month, I wrote on this blog about a Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputy who suffered burns over about 60% of his body after the gas pump he was using simply exploded. Sgt. Richard Ragali was badly burned Oct. 2 during a motorcycle ride to the Florida Keys with a group of friends. When they pulled into a gas station in Marathon, Ragali’s Harley slipped in a puddle of gas, triggering an explosion and pinning him underneath the bike. Ragali has been hospitalized at Jackson Memorial Hospital ever since. According to a Nov. 14 article from KeysNet.com, he and his family are suing the gas station and its parent companies for failing to take care of the gas spill and prevent the accident.

Ragali’s lawsuit, filed last week in Palm Beach County Circuit Court, names Circle K, Shell Oil, Circle K store number 2386 and Motica Enterprises LLC as defendants. According to television station WPBF, the suit alleges that the store’s owners had been warned several times over the preceding weeks that there was a gas puddle at the pump. Nonetheless, they negligently failed to take action, the complaint charges. Ragali is seeking damages for his medical bills, lost past and future earnings, injuries, pain, suffering, permanent disfigurement and loss of enjoyment of life. His sons, 16-year-old Joshua and 20-year-old Joseph, are claiming the loss of their father’s services, support, guidance and other care. Their family’s West Palm Beach premises liability attorney said they’ve been living with their mother, who is divorced from Ragali, since the accident.

I was also sobered to read about some of the serious consequences of Ragali’s burn injuries. KeysNet reported that he is in a specialized burn unit, where he has received multiple skin grafts and is undergoing physical therapy. The family’s attorney said Ragali recently took 20 steps — a big deal for his family. As a Lauderhill burn injury attorney, I’m sorry to say that this is not unusual for someone who was so severely burned. In addition to being unpleasant to look at, the inflexible scar tissue from a bad burn can also restrict the victim’s movements if not prevented, corrected or both. Victims typically need long-term physical therapy, care from a burn specialist or dermatologist and sometimes surgeries. Not surprisingly, all this medical care can be very expensive. For someone as badly burned as Ragali, medical costs can easily reach seven figures over a lifetime.

Continue reading →

Published on:

The family of a nine-year-old boy who lost all of his fingers and suffered serious burns in a go-kart accident has sued both the go-kart manufacturer and the track. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported Oct. 5 that the Olmstead family has sued the Palm Beach International Raceway, vehicle manufacturer Carter Bros. and engine manufacturer Briggs & Stratton. No damages were specified, but the family’s Palm Beach County injuries to minors attorney said he expected the recovery in the case to be high. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which enforces safety rules for most products, is investigating the safety of the go-kart involved.

The victim, Devin Olmstead, visited the racetrack with his father in May of this year with a go-kart the family owned. According to the article, Devin was racing when he hit rough, uneven pavement, causing the kart to flip and burst into flames. Devin was trapped, and the lawsuit says the track didn’t have personnel, fire extinguishers or emergency phones on hand. Instead, a bystander came to Devin’s aid. Unfortunately, all ten of Devin’s fingers were lost in the fire and he suffered burns from his chin to his torso. In an unrelated motorcycle crash Oct. 4, motorcyclist Isidro Castillo, 32, hit a wall at the racetrack and is hospitalized in critical condition.

As a Pembroke Pines child injury attorney, I already keep a close eye on all accidents related to children and motor vehicles. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for American children ages three and older, and accidents with ATVs — which children may legally operate in most states — kill more than 100 kids nationwide each year and injure around 150,000 others. Unlike ordinary motor vehicles, go-karts are specifically designed for children, which makes it all the more important that manufacturers ensure that their products are not unreasonably dangerous, even for inexperienced younger drivers. The same goes for racetracks open to children and teens, which have a legal responsibility to make sure their young clients are not exposed to undue risks.

Continue reading →

Published on:

As a Harley rider and a Davie burn injury attorney, I was dismayed to read about serious burns a sheriff’s supervisor sustained in an unusual accident. The Palm Beach Post and WPEC reported Oct. 5 that Richard Ragali, a Palm Beach County sheriff’s sergeant, was burned over nearly 60% of his body Oct. 2 when he was caught in a fuel fire at a gas station. The fire reportedly started when Ragali’s Harley-Davidson fell over during a stop for gas, igniting a puddle of gas left on the ground and pinning him under the bike. He suffered serious burns and is hospitalized in serious but stable condition. No one else was hurt, although two children were rescued from a nearby minivan that was ignited.

I’m sorry to say that the burn injuries this article describes sound very serious. Doctors use burn percentages to determine whether the patient should be hospitalized and the treatment he or she receives. For patients with moderate burns, about 10% is the threshold for hospitalization; more severe third-degree burns may require hospitalization if they affect just 1% of the body. At 60%, Rigali has lost so much skin that his body may have lost its ability to regulate basics like temperature and hydration. He also faces infection and, once he recovers, scarring so severe that it could limit his physical movement. As a Pompano Beach burn injury lawyer, I’m glad he was able to get to the trauma center so quickly, which substantially raises his chances of a good recovery.

I am also interested in the chain of events that started this fire, which will be very important when Rigali and his family begin to consider insurance claims and legal responsibility for this terrible accident. A small amount of spilled gasoline is almost inevitable at any gas station, but a large spill may constitute an unreasonable and serious safety hazard. If that’s the case, the operator of the station may be legally responsible for failing to clean it up. If the motorcycle slipped from a seemingly secure kickstand or center stand, the stand may also be defective, making the manufacturer liable for designing and selling a defective part. An experienced attorney should be able to negotiate with insurance companies for the at-fault parties — or, if necessary, sue to recover the victims’ costs and damages.

Continue reading →

Contact Information